Beaufort County's Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program

"Beaufort County’s Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program has an  amazing story to tell. The Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program  began in 1999, after the creation and adoption of the first Beaufort  County Comprehensive Plan. The Program is an innovative way to encourage  growth by protecting the most critical land and maintaining rural land  for farming or as buffers to important areas. Our community has realized  both direct and indirect benefits as a result of this program.

In 2002, the first $40 million bond referendum to fund land purchases  was passed with tremendous support. Four additional referenda followed  over the next 17 years, including the 2018 referendum for $25 million to  fund land purchases and park improvements. The five referenda have been  overwhelmingly supported by the citizens of Beaufort County with the  2018 referendum approval at 70%. By January 1, 2019, the Program had  completed 114 land protection projects, preserving in total 23,926 acres  through fee simple purchase (79) and conservation easements (35).

How the Program Protects Land

Land may be acquired by direct purchase of property, or by purchase  or donation of development rights, which often allows property owners  and families to remain on the land and continue its use for farming,  hunting, fishing, or other historic purposes. A conservation easement,  which forever protects the land from development, may also be  negotiated.

Program Management

The Beaufort County Open Land Trust (BCOLT), manages the Rural and  Critical Lands Program on behalf of Beaufort County with the help of a  volunteer advisory board. BCOLT is South Carolina’s oldest land trust  and has been working to protect land in Beaufort County since 1971."

2014 Beaufort County Greenprint

Rural and Critical Program Resources for Beaufort County

Rural and Critical Lands Program Criteria for Beaufort County

Frederick County, Virginia has a Conservation Easement Authority to assist County landowners in protecting and preserving land

Douglas County, Colorado Open Space and Land Protection Strategies

"Preserving valuable open space land in Douglas County often involves a  collaboration of many strategies. Among these are the various land  protection tools and techniques, intricate partnerships, dedication and hard work of staff and our advisory board"

Additionally, the Brightman Thomas Greenspace Initiative Report includes a system of criteria on page 11 that could be used as part of a GIS-driven process to identify land for permanent protection.